REFLECTION: What are you discerning?

I received a book entitled Spiritual Discernement by Watchman Nee when my cousins visited this (Canadian) Thanksgiving.  The title intrigued me, but I had set it aside for lack of time.  The book had been sitting on the ledge for almost 2 months and yet today, I couldn’t leave for my quiet time without it.

The Father continues to amaze me!  Spiritual Discernment is exactly what the Father has been walking me through these past few weeks and today, my intellectual and experiential understanding has been increased by Watchman Nee’s teachings!  I could have continued to ignore the book as I walked by, but the Spirit was prompting… explains…”Spiritual discernment is calling on the Holy Spirit to lead or give direction on a matter. It is how the Spirit shows the church or its people what God wants them to do and be.”

“Discernment is more than just a skill. Discernment is a gift from God before it is anything else. Yet there are clearly skills you can put to use when using your gift, and you can become better at it through training and experience.”

“Discernment is more than just a process. Even for the most ‘material’ or ‘nitty-gritty’ matters, there is a Spirit at work nudging us, leading us, even pulling us by the nose ring. Then again, even for the most ‘spiritual’ matters, there are disciplines, methods, processes, means, and tools which the Spirit can work through to help us discern rightly. Discernment isn’t usually a sudden zap from beyond, but something which emerges from hard work and close attention.   Learn to discern. Yearn to discern.”

Through the passing of time, numerous advice are given to us by family, friends and the media.  Have you noticed that we are able embrace some advice while we immediately discard others?  Have you pondered why?  In 1949, Watchman Nee taught…”The godly will give words heard careful consideration, even thinking according to the speaker’s thought; yet they will never compromise…  But in the end, the godly will pay more attention to the speaker’s spirit than to his thoughts and reasoning; for they realize that logic may sound right but the person’s spirit can be wrong.” 1 Is this what you have done?

Watchman Nee delves further…”Our ability to know the spirit in another person does not come from books, nor from the experiences of older saints, but from personal dealings with God.  It may be that you sense somethng moving in another’s spirit and feel uneasy about it; yet you fail to know why it is so.  This is because the spiritual judgement you may have acquired thus far is inadequate.  But if you have been dealt with God in such condition sufficiently, you will then be able to pinpoint the cause.”

“Touching another’s spirit and the ability to tell why are two different things.  You need to point out the sin committed and assess the cause of the trouble.  If God has thoroughly judged me and disciplined me, then I have learned before Him that such and such a spirit is an expression of self-love, pride or jealousy.   And so, as soon as a person shows self-love or pride, I know the case and am able to judge.”

“We need a workable spirit by which to diagnose another’s spirit.  Our spirit learning should therefore be broad, in that we ourselves need to be widely judged.  The more dealings we receive before God, the more discernments we will have.  Oftentimes, we can indeed recognize people’s faults, yet we cannot help because our own dealings are not thorough enough.”

“If you have learned deeply with respect to the lesson of pride, you will instantly detect the rise in yourself of any tiny self-satisfaction or self-glory; you know at once that you want people to pay attention to you:  your pride draws people’s notice and you are well satisfied with yourself.”

“Spiritual insight is different from simply picking out faults in yourself.  You must not just sense it, you must also be able to explain it.  How much sin the church allows to remain depends on what measure of sin you permit in your own life.  Should the most hidden sins in you be judged, you have learned deeply.”

“In the case of weeping, it is because of self-love, because of pain, or because of being broken by God?  Weeping is a sign of weakness, we weep because we are beaten.  Some people do not know how to weep.  This is due to their lack of feeling.  The most difficult group of Christians is that of those who have never been poured from vessel to vessel.  They have never been submitted, have never bowed down, have never been softened.  Everything which happens has to gratify their hearts.  They cannot endure the tiniest frustration.  You therefore know that such people have received little grace, and hence you cannot commit any church affairs to them.  The cross has not worked in their lives.  Bad temper in them is due to either pride or self-love.  Nevertheless, if you yourself have received dealings in such areas, you will be able to deal with them with spiritual discernment.”

“A person with much discipline but little learning is a hard person.  He is unable to yield.  he has dealings but no lessons learned, much discipline yet no good results.  But if much discipline is coupled with a tender spirit, you should expect to see much result.  Yet strangely, the spirit is still poor.  The probable reason is that people despise things spiritual.  Furthermore, if the spirit is tender and there is not the belittlement of spiritual things and yet there is still the lack of fruit, then this you realize is the lack of the supply of God’s word.”

“So, to be useful in discernment requires that 1) you know how to use your spirit and 2) you know how to help others.  We need to recognize the source from where things come; otherwise we shall be deceived.”2

Powerful, isn’t it?

What are you discerning today?

God bless,


p23; The Godly Have a Tender Spirit – notes from a message given on April 11, 1949.
2. pp 29-31; How to Diagnose (or Discern) – Date unknown.

order from: 11515 Allecingie Pkwy; Richmond, Va 23235 (

– Philip and Rosita, thank you SO MUCH for the book!

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